Motorola to position new GPS chip for phones

The precise location of virtually any consumer electronics device will be able to be determined using a new chip from Motorola Inc. that puts global positioning system (GPS) technology on a single chip, the company said Tuesday.

Motorola Instant GPS is a 7-millimeter square chip developed from IBM Corp.'s 0.25-micron silcon germanium process by Motorola Automotive, a subsidiary of Motorola. With single-chip GPS technology, as opposed to current GPS designs that require multiple chips, device manufacturers will be able to design a whole new set of small, lightweight devices with GPS technology, such as cell phones or even wristwatches, the company said.

Motorola, based in Schaumburg, Illinois, is also planning to incorporate the Motorola Instant GPS chip in automobiles, which are a stable environment in which to test the technology, said Ken Hopkins, director of marketing and public relations for Motorola Automotive.

The chip was designed with a low intermediate frequency architecture to lessen the interference from GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and Bluetooth networks, which enable wireless data exchange. This makes it easier for engineers to place the chip next to GSM and Bluetooth transmitters in cell phones, Hopkins said.

Sample quantities of the chip will be available early next year, with production expected to begin in the second quarter, Hopkins said.

GPS devices are especially important for cell phone manufacturers and wireless carriers, who are under the gun to fulfill the promise of Enhanced 911 (E-911), which provides emergency services dispatchers with the precise location of a 911 call placed from a cell phone.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had set a deadline for wireless carriers to implement E-911 capabilities into their services by Oct. 1 of last year. Not one carrier met that deadline, most claiming that difficulty in securing the necessary technologies for the service.

The FCC is allowing the carriers to proceed at their own pace with the service rollouts, but is still mandating that 95 percent of all cell phones must have E-911 capabilities by the end of 2005. ]

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Tom Krazit

Computerworld
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